Following back-to-back road wins and an impressive overall stretch of seven victories in eight games, the Atlanta Hawks returned home to State Farm Arena on Thursday evening. The Hawks hosted the Milwaukee Bucks, with the visitors entering the night in sole possession of the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta entered the evening short-handed once again, with John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Tony Snell, Cam Reddish, Kris Dunn and Danilo Gallinari sidelined. Ultimately, depth was an issue for the Hawks, and the home team fell by a final score of 120-109.
The Hawks played at a high level in the opening minutes, zooming to a 10-4 run at the outset. In that stretch, Atlanta made four of its first five shots, including two three-pointers, and the team’s defense settled in nicely.
Though Milwaukee did make a run, eventually snatching the lead, rookie big man Onyeka Okongwu performed well, including a late block to preserve a four-point deficit after 12 minutes.
The second quarter was controlled by the Bucks, largely on the strength of a 13-0 run that gave Milwaukee a 58-44 lead. Atlanta did recover at the end of the half, however, and the combination of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Solomon Hill kept the Hawks engaged with impressive outside shooting.
The Hawks trailed by 12 at the half, but both Bogdanovic and Hill connected on a trio of three-pointers, with Bogdanovic racking up 15 points before the break.
Atlanta had its best run of the night coming out of the locker room in the third, scoring the first eight points. That push allowed the Hawks to keep containment, and it happened in (very) short order.
Hill and Bogdanovic continued to carry the offense with three-point shooting and, eventually, the Hawks finished off a 22-9 overall run to take a 74-73 lead midway through the third quarter. Unfortunately, that advantage was short-lived, with the Bucks closing the third quarter with a 12-2 run to reclaim a 12-point advantage.
Given all of the work needed to come back from a double-digit deficit in the first place, the home team had a difficult task in the fourth quarter. That was made even more perilous by Milwaukee’s early run in the closing period, with the Bucks leading by 19 points with six minutes remaining.
Atlanta did score seven straight points to raise eyebrows, but that run brought the Hawks only to within 12 points at 111-99. They kept clawing, though, eventually slashing the deficit to just eight points with fewer than three minutes remaining. The miracle comeback was quelled on a possession in which Milwaukee secured three offensive rebounds, and the Hawks fell by a final 11-point margin.
The starting lineup did its part for the Hawks, even on a night when Young struggled. Bogdanovic continued his blazing-hot recent play with 28 points on 6-of-12 from three-point range, to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. Elsewhere, Hill set new season-high marks with 18 points and six three-pointers on eight attempts, and he contributed important defense against Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Capela added yet another double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds, with Huerter adding 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Still, Atlanta’s second unit floundered and that was particularly costly in this matchup.
Following Thursday’s contest, the Hawks will enter the team’s first two-day break without a game since the All-Star break in early March. Atlanta will return to action with a home tilt against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday afternoon.